In his fourth year coaching the Cloverdale varsity wrestling team, Head Coach Brian Siddons is facing a challenge.
After losing five seniors from last year's team, the Clovers are lacking experience this season.
"It's definitely a rebuilding year," Siddons said. "We are young. We only have two juniors, but one of them is a first-year wrestler."
Gone from last year are Justin Gilbert, Greg Reinhardt, Wayne Rubeck, Andrew Fidler and Kray Gruener. Four of the five seniors had at least 20 wins, while Rubeck advanced to regional competition the last two seasons.
"The seniors that I had last year, they were just an awesome group," he said. "They were just really talented and worked hard. So we're going to miss a lot of leadership."
Attempting to fill the void in leadership this year, Alex Gardiner returns as the sole experienced junior on the squad. Gardiner will likely see time at 189-pound class this season.
"Alex has really stepped up and taken charge, even more so than I thought he would," Siddons said. "He has done a real good job."
Others returning from last year include sophomores Sean Rhine and Jacob Thompson. Rhine will be wrestling in the 135-pound class, while Thompson will be wrestling in the 140-pound division. Sophomores Todd Rightmyer and Brian Young are also returning, and will be wrestling at the 145-pound and 171-pound weight classes, respectively.
Other sophomores on the squad include Trevor Ehmen and Mitch May.
The freshmen class includes Nick Keefer, Derek Davis, Justin Burdette, Alex Swanson, Levi Haltom, Scott Mayhew and Zach Woycott.
Junior Ethan Davis will likely miss the entire season with a recent elbow injury.
The team is full of young talent to be developed. However, Siddons doesn't see this is much of a problem.
"We're going to have fun with it," he said. "The focus is going to be on learning and building."
The Clovers hit the mats Tuesday, when they host West Vigo at 6:30 p.m. Although Siddons didn't know much about the Vikings' team, he is prepared for them to field a tough squad.
"I know they've had a lot of kids the last couple years," he said. "I expect them to have a pretty big team coming back this year. They've been looking pretty good the last few years."
As Siddons said, right now, the wins and losses don't really matter. The main focus is development at this point. In a couple of years, the Clovers could be a force in the West Central Conference.
"My main goal is just to get them ready for the next couple years," Siddons said. "This is going to be a good group of upperclassmen once they reach that level.
"Right now, we just need to work on the basics and getting them to the point where they can wrestle all three periods," he said.